DEN08LA085
DEN08LA085

On May 5, 2008, at 1035 mountain daylight time, a North American SNJ-5, N12KY, piloted by a private pilot, was substantially damaged during a forced landing to a field 8 miles southeast of Wolcott, Colorado. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. The private pilot sustained minor injuries. The cross-country flight departed Centennial Airport (APA), Englewood, Colorado, approximately 0955 and was en route to Wendover, Nevada.

According to the pilot, he was in cruise flight at 12,500 feet mean sea level when the engine stopped running. He switched fuel tanks, enrichened the fuel mixture, tested the magnetos, and activated the wobble pump, in attempt to restart the engine. These attempts were unsuccessful. The pilot declared an emergency on 121.50 and performed a forced landing to rolling, uneven terrain. During the landing, both wings and the engine separated from the fuselage. The fuselage came to rest inverted in a shallow ravine.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration inspectors who traveled to the scene, the right wing tank was "dry" and the left wing tank was three quarters full. They reported the fuel selector valve was selected for the left tank. The wings were oriented on a slope with the right wing being up slope and the left wing sitting down slope.

The wreckage was recovered and relocated to a hangar in Greeley, Colorado, for further examination. The left wing fuel tank had several holes, was crushed up in several locations, and was wrinkled. The fuel strainer on the left side had bark pressed into it and was not moveable by hand. The right fuel tank was crushed up and wrinkled, and exhibited at least two holes. The fuel strainer was easy to move and manipulate. The wing skin surrounding the fuel strainer had been crushed up around it.

The spark plugs, fuel pump, carburetor, and valve covers were removed. Several cylinders exhibited impact damage. Oil was present throughout the engine. The engine was suspended by the propeller and rotated. Air movement was noted (tactilely) at each spark plug hole. Valve train and engine continuity was noted by the movement of the rocker arms. Impact damage inhibited the movement of the several rocker arms. Movement of the drive at each magneto was noted. Examination of the fuel pump revealed no anomalies.

The drive within the fuel pump flange did not rotate and was not straight. The flange was removed from the engine revealing that the fuel pump drive gear was pressed into the flange and would not rotate by hand. Several of the gear teeth exhibited damage and the gear shaft exhibited rotational scoring. Half of the engine side lip of the flange was missing. The flange housing was discolored and was split along the sides in two locations. Wear and rubbing was noted on the remaining portion of the lip. Galling, and rubbing were noted in the internal portion of the flange housing.

According to the pilot, he had fueled the airplane the evening prior to the flight. The airplane holds 140 gallons of fuel; 70 gallons in each tank. He stated that the engine will consume approximately 35 gallons of fuel per hour. According to the recovery team, they recovered 50 gallons of fuel from the left tank.

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